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Published: Thursday, 4/10/2003

Church activist won on `The Price Is Right'

Lillian Belle Darrington, 84, who was active in parent-teacher groups and Mount Zion Baptist Church for 65 years and once was a contestant on The Price Is Right, died Tuesday of complications from Alzheimer's disease, a family member said.

Born in Eudora, Ark., and educated in St. Louis, Mrs. Darrington followed her parents to Toledo in 1938 after attending Stove Teacher's College, said her daughter, Helen McClellan.

“She just enjoyed meeting people,” Ms. McClellan said.

Mrs. Darrington was a member of Mount Zion and was involved with the church's leadership since joining, serving under at least three pastors, Ms. McClellan said.

She was president of the missionary society, superintendent of the Sunday school, and president of the senior usher board. She also was the president of the woman's ministry of the Zion Baptist District Association and second vice president of the Ohio Baptist State Convention's woman's ministry.

“If someone wanted something, she was always there,” Ms. McClellan said. “She loved being active in the church. She knew her Bible inside and out.”

Mrs. Darrington was active with the schools her children attended. Ms. McClellan said she was the first African-American president of the old Monroe School Parent Teacher Association, a school at Monroe Street and Lawrence Avenue.

One of the highlights for Mrs. Darrington was appearing on The Price Is Right in 1983.

Ms. McClellan said the game show was just a part of one of her mother's traveling excursions when she was surprised to find herself as one of the contestants and then, on stage with host Bob Barker.

“She won a ceiling fan that's still up,” Ms. McClellan said. “She also won two motorcycles, but she took the cash instead. We still have the videotape of it. It was something she enjoyed talking about.”

Mrs. Darrington stayed active while working as a day-care provider, travel agent, Head Start teacher, Avon consultant, and manager of rental properties, her daughter said.

She married Selma Thompson in 1940 and had three children from that relationship. In 1952, she married Henry Darrington and gave birth to two more children.

Surviving are her daughters, Helen McClellan, Jacquline Labich, Lillian Annette Hawkins, and Karen A. Ferguson; son, Dewayne H. Darrington; sister, Ruth Sharp, and 15 grandchildren.

A wake will be held at 10 a.m. today in Mount Zion, 701 Vance St., followed by funeral services at 11 a.m. Arrangements are by House of Day Funeral Home.

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